The Composer

The Composer at Long & McQuade

There may come a time when The-Oldest playing on stage doesn’t wow me, but on one Saturday in Dec., not only was I wow’d, but I have to confess, tears leaked out of this old guy’s eyes as I listened to him play at the Langley Community Music School – a piece he’d written.

As a struggling artist (writer, not composer), I felt his anguish as he wrote, then perfected his sonata. For weeks, I heard him trying new things on his piano, playing with themes, progressions, chords and musical thingees I don’t pretend to understand. He’d curse the results sometimes. Sometimes he’d leave to walk around, muttering to himself as he sorted out a problem in his mind. A few times he even shouted with triumph.

But make no mistake, creating his latest composition took time, he suffered in its creation, and he put a lot of his soul into it.

Being a perfectionist, though, he wasn’t happy with the piece even as he sat waiting for his turn to play on stage. Nervous, like anyone having to perform, he talked out the issues swirling in his head, hoping to calm the butterflies or chase away the fear that everyone would hate it, that he’d wasted his time, that he didn’t have the talent.

Worse, as he sat there, he found out he had to do a speech.

A speech!

He hadn’t prepared for that! What was he going to say?

Keep it simple, I told him. What is your name? What is your quest? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

He didn’t laugh. I don’t even know if he heard me.

Then his turn came.

Christ, I was as nervous as him. I knew there were complex parts he struggled to play. I knew when he let his nerves get the best of him, he’d rush through the piece like a ferret on speed. I knew that he still wasn’t sure one part worked and might even attempt to change it on the fly.

He stood up.

His mom took his hand for a moment. Just a brief moment. Then he marched up on stage.

And played his heart out.

He played his piece fearlessly. He played with passion and power. He played loud and proud, which in our living room sometimes sounds like he’s trying to bring the walls of Jericho down, but in the concert hall, he filled the huge room with incredible music.

After he finished, he stood, bowed with flourish, like a man used to being on stage, like a performer who knew he’d hit it out of the park. Not like someone who just took up the piano 2 ½ years ago.

I dabbed away the tears.

Last blog, I talked about ‘firsts’, and how special they can be, but this, too, was special. Not his first concert. Not the first piece he’s played to an audience, but it was, by far, the best performance that he’d done thus far.

Thus. Far.

Who knows what’s next?

As sat back down, he said he was already working on his next creation, and it would be even BETTER.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I both posted the performance on Facebook and Youtube, but if you haven’t heard it, check it out below. Like and subscribe to his channel, if you think he did a good job.

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The Piano Man

One of the most amazing things about being a step-dad is that you get to watch your kids grow up, learn new things, or develop new talents.

There have been a good number of posts about The-Youngest who loves to play baseball and hockey. I’ve watched him go from being a goalie whose early strategy seemed to be to fall on his face and hope they hit him in the top of his helmet with the puck, to doing great butterfly splits, getting all pro with his glove hand, and learning to play the angles. Oh sure, he still takes more than his fair share of pucks in the face, like it’s a secret tactic of his, but he’s come so far and it’s been so great to see (even at 6 am in the morning.)

But The-Oldest has gone a different route. He’s not a sports guy. He’s a music guy.

Last year in April, he started on the piano and it’s like the two understood each other, like he’d found his soulmate.

He’s gone from plunking away aimlessly to creating freaking sonatas, preludes and piano concertos.

In less than 18 months.

When he wakes up, he races to the piano right after breakfast. When he comes home from school and he goes on the piano. When he finishes supper, he’s on the piano. When he’s asked to go to bed, he says, no, just another few minutes on the piano.

This, my friends, is what it takes to succeed at something. Lots of raw talent followed up by endless hours and hours of practice.

Below are the results. To quote him. “This is my satirical love song. Taking all the pop tropes and having many hidden references. This piece is made for the public. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s everyone’s favorite prelude.”

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